Devil Sent the Rain - D. J. Butler

Chapter One

“I don’t like this place,” Mike grumbled. The big guy shrugged deeper into his cracked leather jacket.

Rain thumped angrily on the skylight overhead, rattling the warped old metal and threatening to punch through the glass. Water trickled down the cement walls of the room, prickly-cold from the weather and lit in blue and gray by fluorescent tubes. Jim paced the room like a caged cat, looking into the corners and behind the furniture.

“What’s the matter, missing your serape? Don’t get thunderstorms like this in Oaxaca? No chiles rellenos in the green room?” Adrian needled Mike. Mike wasn’t particularly Mexican, had grown up in Texas or something, but he had Mexico in his family and he was sensitive about it. That gave Adrian all the room he needed to tease him.

The truth was, Adrian didn’t much like the club either. It was a dive, and dives got dangerous, even without the hurricane-force storm that was building outside. For that matter, the storm might keep attendance down, and that would create a different sort of problem. Fewer drinkers meant less cash for the band meant less gas for the van, and Chicago was still a long drive away.

The thought of clubs and the dangers they presented reminded Adrian that he still hadn’t checked this one for wards or other arcane traps, which was definitely his job. He was, after all, the resident wizard.

He reached into his pocket for his Third Eye—

“We can get chiles rellenos,” the club gopher chirped. She was young and cute, in a cream-of-the-math-major-and-gamer-girls-crop sort of way, complete with dark-rimmed square glasses and a ponytail. She clicked on her tablet and typed in a couple of characters, moving in closer to Adrian. Adrian grinned his best wolfish grin and tried not to back away. The gopher kept invading his space in a way that made it hard not to realize she was attractive. It wasn’t that he didn’t like sex, or girls, but Adrian was a wizard, and he couldn’t expend his ka-energy or burden his shadow with anything as frivolous as sex. “There’s a good Mexican place just down the street.”

“What is that, Yelp?” Adrian asked. He leaned over her to look at the map of Kansas City that sprang to life under her fingers. He missed his own app-loaded smartphone, which had been crushed by a renegade angel in New Mexico a few days earlier. Besides, if he focused on the cool toys, it helped him not to think about the girl who was holding them.

“Chingate,” Mike swore. “Both of you.”

“Ain’t nothing down the street but water, anyway,” Eddie threw in. “Every direction. I looked.” Eddie just had to assert that he was the boss, no matter how much of a second fiddle he would always be to Jim. The guitarist scratched himself under his arm, and Adrian knew he was reassuring himself that his pistol was still there. “I’d take comfort from the forecast that this is going to be a light rain, if I was able to take comfort from anything.”

In answer, thunder crashed outside the building. The rain stopped drumming and began to hammer.

“Not literally,” Gopher Girl agreed. “But we could send a bike.”

They stood in the green room of a club called the Silver Eel. The building had once been some kind of dockside warehouse, squatting low down on the water’s edge below a steep hill. The green room and performance space were on the upper floor. The green room was a rectangular slice taken off one end of the top floor, stuffed with ratty armchairs and a card table carrying a basket of candy bars and a huddle of water bottles. It had a door at each end, one leading onto the stage and the other into a stairwell that climbed down to the lower floors—there was a lounge and restaurant on the floor below them, at street level, and stairs that led further down, to space that was presumably at the level of the river. Adrian’s arms were still stiff from loading in up those stairs.

“You could send a boat,” Eddie suggested. “It’d get there faster.”

“Any port,” Adrian said, “et cetera.” In a storm. Obvious, though, wasn’t it? Say something useful, he kicked himself. Say something impressive.

As if to punctuate the lameness of his quip, a flash of thunder through the skylight came accompanied by an immediate BOOM! of thunder.

“Jeez,” Mike said. “That’s close enough, it could have killed somebody in the street.”

“Mexican food,” Twitch commented, swishing her tail as she